Google blames buried iTunes search results on technical issues

After some users noticed links to iTunes Preview pages were being buried in Google’s search results, the search giant has blamed the issue on technical problems.

The issue first surfaced yesterday, when Appsfire co-founder Ouriel Ohayon discovered links to iTunes apps had become more difficult to find in Google search results. Instead, other pages were ranking higher than usual.

“Something really weird start to happen on google. It has become impossible to find iPhone and iPad apps looking for them in the search engine with a normal query. Eg “twitter iPhone app” which used to bring instantly the iTunes link first. What happened ? Google playing games ?” Ohayon explained.

It might be tempting for conspiracy theorists to imagine a ploy on Google’s part to edge Apple’s iOS out of search results, but the truth is more innocent, the company explains.

“We've been having some issues fetching pages from the iTunes web servers, and as a result some people may have had problems finding iTunes apps in search easily. We're working with the team there to ensure search users can find what they're looking for,” a Google spokesperson told the Verge.

Meanwhile, Search Engine Land suggests the problem could come down to duplicate content.

“Apple might have a duplicate content issue happening, perhaps one that’s become recent, for some reason. With duplicate content, you have two or more pages that are virtually identical to each other. That can confuse search engines and sometimes have the effect of “splitting the vote” when it comes to ranking, so that neither page wins,” wrote Danny Sullivan, pointing out that the problem does not exist on Bing.